RURAL crime officers in Pembrokeshire are doing more than tackling crime, proving their worth to farmers and people in isolation at risk of mental ill-health.

PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are putting the wellbeing of the communities they serve at the heart of their work, using routine calls to spot the signs that people might be in need of additional support.

The pair is working closely with mental health charity the DPJ Foundation, and has referred several people for counselling and mental health support.

The foundation was set up in July 2016 by Emma Picton-Jones following the death of her husband Daniel.

RELATED: Emma Picton-Jones of the DPJ Foundation has been nominated for a national award

It aims to break the stigma surrounding mental ill-health, and to support people in rural communities, particularly men in the agricultural society.

PC Gerwyn Davies said farmers often struggled to access the support they needed.

“A lot of mental health services are not set up for people in the rural community, who face unique challenges and will often keep their problems bottled up,” he said.

“As rural crime officers, we come into contact with people from the agriculture industry every day. We see the signs that people need extra support – people who are living in isolation, suffering from family losses, or health issues – and we can now refer them to the foundation.”

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PC Davies explained that he and PCSO Parr will be called to a property to deal with a policing issue, but while with the farmer will establish the bigger picture.

“There was one farmer who had lost his mother – he was very lonely and not doing very well,” he said. “He had some health problems, but wouldn’t go to the doctors because he said he was too busy working.

“We contacted the DPJ Foundation and they arranged for a nurse to go out and see him. They know farmers are busy, so they make arrangements for people to visit them at home.”

One of the biggest issues farmers face is loneliness, caused by long and often unsocial working hours, PC Davies said, and the reaction he and PCSO Parr receive is often heart-breaking.

“We called to see one farmer because our PCSO had been told he was lonely,” he said.

“He was almost in tears when we turned up at his house. He said he didn’t think anyone would care. People used to look after each other, they used to see more people, and now farming can be a very lonely occupation.”

As well as living in isolation, other factors that can impact on farmers’ mental health are financial pressures, legislation, and the weather.

“One of these would be difficult to deal with, but we come across farmers who are facing pressure from three or four different factors, which is too much,” he said.

“The social side of farming isn’t there any more – they don’t have anyone to lean on. I know from experience that farmers put their work before their own needs, so we are helping them to realise that their own health – physical and mental – needs to come first.”

To contact the DPJ Foundation, or for more information, visit